Ricky Romero’s mechanical makeover will continue at triple-A Buffalo while Ramon Ortiz appears headed to the Toronto Blue Jays rotation, filling one of two vacancies.
Romero was optioned to the Bisons on Thursday morning after lasting just seven batters in a 10-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays the previous night, while Edgar Gonzalez, who soaked up 4.1 innings, was designated for assignment.
The contracts of Ortiz, 39, and reliever Mickey Storey, 27, were purchased from Buffalo to their spots.
Romero’s second demotion of the year – he was optioned to single-A Dunedin at the end of spring training – comes at a terrible time for the Blue Jays, who were already without Josh Johnson and are now down J.A. Happ, too.
The left-hander is out an undetermined period after suffering a right knee sprain while dropping to the ground after being struck by a line drive Tuesday night.
Happ’s next start was scheduled for Sunday, but the Blue Jays are also expected to juggle their rotation, with Brandon Morrow due to be pushed back to Sunday from Friday because of neck and back spasms.
Romero was due to pitch Tuesday, giving R.A. Dickey an extra day of rest for his own neck and back tightness.
Meanwhile Johnson, on the disabled list with triceps tightness, is only due to resume throwing Thursday. If he makes one rehab start in the minors, he could be ready in roughly 10 days or so, barring setbacks.
Romero recorded just one out against the Rays after working four innings in his previous start against the Seattle Mariners, coming out because of a comebacker off his forearm.
He’s made just three starts in all since reworking his delivery for a month in Dunedin, and debate raged over whether he was ready or not. Manager John Gibbons showed no trust in him Wednesday with the quick hook and the Blue Jays decided to pull back on him afterwards.
“I don’t see it as a step backwards,” Romero said after his outing, the shortest of his career. “The statistics don’t show that but you hold your head high. …
“I know this is where I belong and I’ll continue to say it, I could care less what anybody thinks. I can’t forget what I’ve done, my track record isn’t very big, but you can’t forget what I’ve done the past four years, either. This is one of those things you wish you had the answer to but you’ve got to keep going out there and learning about yourself.”